By Michael Ventura and Jennifer Glickel
MANHATTAN — A conservative group is running ads on MTA buses in Manhattan claiming to offer help to people looking to leave the Islamic faith.
The ads ask: "Leaving Islam? Fatwa on your head? Is your family threatening you?" It then lists a website, refugefromislam.com, which offers information about leaving Islam and converting to Christianity or another religion.
"It's not offensive to Muslims, it's religious freedom," Pamela Geller, who's behind the ads and leads an organization called Stop Islamization of America, told the Associated Press. "It's not targeted at practicing Muslims. It doesn't say 'leave,' it says 'leaving' with a question mark."
She said the ads cost roughly $8,000, which she paid for through donations, the AP said.
MTA officials said the ads didn't violate agency policies.
"The ads do not violate any of our advertising guidelines," MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told DNAinfo. "These ads have been up since May 14 and we haven’t gotten one single complaint."
Similar ads were removed from buses in Miami because they were deemed potentially offensive, the AP said.
Stop Islamization of America opposes the proposed World Trade Center mosque, and an article on its website describes those houses of worship as places "where jihadis go for spiritual sustenance."
Gellar co-authored the article posted on SIOA's website that described the mosque as a "peace charade" and calls its spiritual leader, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, "a master of deceptive, Orwellian use of language, manifesting a deep contempt for non-Muslims and full accord with the supremacist goals of the 9/11 hijackers."